Pub. Date:
University of Texas Press
Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings

Crafting Tradition: The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings

by Michael Chibnik
Current price is , Original price is $29.95. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


Since the mid-1980s, whimsical, brightly colored wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have found their way into gift shops and private homes across the United States and Europe, as Western consumers seek to connect with the authenticity and tradition represented by indigenous folk arts. Ironically, however, the Oaxacan wood carvings are not a traditional folk art. Invented in the mid-twentieth century by non-Indian Mexican artisans for the tourist market, their appeal flows as much from intercultural miscommunication as from their intrinsic artistic merit.

In this beautifully illustrated book, Michael Chibnik offers the first in-depth look at the international trade in Oaxacan wood carvings, including their history, production, marketing, and cultural representations. Drawing on interviews he conducted in the carving communities and among wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, he follows the entire production and consumption cycle, from the harvesting of copal wood to the final purchase of the finished piece. Along the way, he describes how and why this "invented tradition" has been promoted as a "Zapotec Indian" craft and explores its similarities with other local crafts with longer histories. He also fully discusses the effects on local communities of participating in the global market, concluding that the trade in Oaxacan wood carvings is an almost paradigmatic case study of globalization.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292712485
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 05/28/2003
Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture Series
Edition description: 1ST
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Michael Chibnik is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1. Introduction
  • Chapter 2. History of Oaxacan Wood Carving (1940-1985)
  • Chapter 3. Contemporary Wood Carving
  • Chapter 4. Wood-Carving Communities
  • Chapter 5. Economic Strategies
  • Chapter 6. Making Wood Carvings
  • Chapter 7. Global Markets and Local Work Organization
  • Chapter 8. Specializations
  • Chapter 9. How Artisans Attain Success
  • Chapter 10. Popular Journalism, Artistic Styles, and Economic Success
  • Chapter 11. Sales in Oaxaca
  • Chapter 12. Sales in the United States
  • Chapter 13. Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • References Cited

What People are Saying About This

Arthur Murphy

"It is hard for me to praise this book sufficiently. . . . It is a major contribution to the field of Oaxacan/Mexican studies, as well as economic anthropology and the study of tourism and crafts."

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews